For the past five years, the Division of the State Architect has erased the entire computer hard drives and copies of records saved on computer servers within a month of an employee’s departure. Those records included all e-mail correspondence, directives, meeting notes and minutes, policy documents, and appointment calendars.
Such records help explain how enforcement decisions were developed and carried out. The retention agreement between the two offices shows that state regulators were not allowed to destroy correspondence and meeting minutes from its top managers without clearance from the State Archives. The records should have been saved for at least four years and then transferred to the State Archives, according to the retention documents.
The destroyed documents take on greater significance now that the state architect’s office has come under scrutiny for its lax enforcement and questionable application of seismic safety standards. In reporting about the state’s system of oversight, California Watch was able to obtain some of these documents through other sources – before records were destroyed. But there is no way to know how many records have been forever lost.
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